How to Create Realistic Dialogue

The following is a guest post from Jenna at Writely Me, an awesome community for writers, by writers. Head on over to get tons of great writing and publishing tips (after you finish reading this, of course). 

Dialogue is an essential key to writing and characterization. Dialogue can either make or break your story.  It is a way to get your readers to relate to your characters and invest in their feelings. If your story doesn’t convey strong dialogue, has too much dialogue, or too little, then that may result in your readers losing interest in your story.

This is why having realistic dialogue is so important. What is realistic dialogue? Realistic dialogue is when your dialogue is written so that it is easily consumed. So, when someone is reading it sounds like a real conversation, not fake or forced.

Believe it or not, it is really simple to create realistic dialogue. If you just follow the steps below, you will be well on your way to crafting that compelling story!

Avoid Certain Keywords

When writing dialogue, there are certain keywords that you’ll want to avoid. These words and phrases are “he said,” “she said,” “said,”  “replied,” and “I replied.” You want to avoid words like these because they are too generic. When you use these words and phrases it is pulling the reader out of your story, which is something you don’t want to happen. Instead, try using different words like “whispered,” “screamed,” “pondered,”  “cried.” By using words that show the reader how the character is acting, you are conveying emotion for the reader.

Use More Show and Less Tell

This is more of a practice that should be used throughout your whole story, but more so through your dialogue. When you take the time to show the reader how your characters are feeling and what they are doing, you are helping your readers get invested in the story. An example of show and tell in dialogue would be this:

“I can’t believe you did this to me, Tommy!” Jenny said while crying.

“I can’t believe you did this to me, Tommy!” The tears cascaded like waterfalls down Jenny’s rosy cheeks.

The second way would be a better way of showing your reader your dialogue and how Jenny is feeling than just saying it outright. This method makes your dialogue more powerful and realistic.

Don’t Always End the Dialogue with Something

Sometimes, a continuation of dialogue without any ending is more realistic than a constant “he cried,” “she shouted,” type of deal.  By continuing the dialogue it sounds more like a real conversation. For example:

“I can’t believe you did this to me, Tommy!”

“What do you mean what I did to you?!”

“You know exactly what I mean!” Jenny could feel her face growing hot.

“No, actually I don’t.” Tommy shook his head. “You are acting crazy!”


“Fine, what?!”

“It’s over, Tommy.”

Notice that even though the dialogue is continuous there are still some minor interjections to show how the characters are acting. By using this method, you are making your dialogue more realistic and understandable.

Stop and Listen

Do you have a hard time constructing dialogue in general? A good way to ensure your dialogue is realistic is by stopping and just listening to people around you. Maybe you are on the train, in class, or just hanging out at home. If you open your ears and take in the conversation around you,  then you will be able to get a better understanding of how people communicate with one another. Think about how you and your family or friends communicate. Jot down notes and pay attention to keywords. This will help you write realistic dialogue.

By following the steps above, you will be on your way to crafting realistic dialogue your readers will enjoy. Remember that it isn’t hard, and if you are having trouble, regroup and listen. Before you know it you will be writing dialogue like a pro!


How to Create Realistic Dialogue - guest post from Jenna Faccenda (of Writely Me) on TheLadyinRead.comJenna is a lover of all things literature, cats, and fitness. (Well, sort of. Yoga is pretty cool.) When she isn’t busy co-running her writing website Writely Me, she is running to catch the train, playing with her spontaneous toddler, and freaking out about the latest Ellen Hopkin’s book. Jenna has a finally completed YA Thriller manuscript and attends every writing conference and critique group she can get her hands on. Jenna has interned for a publishing company and writing conference. She hopes to one day continue her love of books by working in publicity for a publishing house. You can catch her book nerdiness and writerly advice over at



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How to Create Realistic Dialogue: a guest post by Jenna of Writely Me // // writing, books, writing tips, writing dialogue, character development

About Meghan

Meghan is a novelist, blogger, and copyeditor fueled by coffee and red lipstick. When she's not typing away you can find her reading, organizing, or watching old sitcoms and superhero movies with her husband, cat, and baby-to-be.


  1. Hello Jenna and Meghan!

    Am I FIRST?



    First time visitor and I have to say this was almost as fun as watching a politician fall down a set of stairs.

    …three floors.


    (’What? I’m in the middle of a comment!’)


    (*sigh* ‘Fine…’)

    …and Chuck says “Hey”, Jenna.

    BACK to my comment,…I was going to say that constructing conversations are essential in any good book—so these are essential skills.

    At the same time, there are writers I admire, such as Terry Pratchett who had a habit of breaking every rule he could in writing!

    Maybe it’s a British thing?

    Observing people and how they communicate IS a great idea to learn the form and flow of communication.

    NOTE TO THE WISE: Just don’t do it at a distance…with binoculars

    …wearing a trench coat

    …and sun glasses.

    Then again, you MAY be able to practice your communication skills with the authorities that way.

    …perhaps get first hand experience with court room banter and LEGAL terms, too!

    Though, I highly suggest a reasonable conversation with someone you know.

    You’ll have a better time AND you won’t have to sport an orange jumper or sit in a bullet-proof glass booth to have it.

    …just sayin.

    Jaime Buckley
    Your BIGGEST Fan!

    • I am not going to lie Jaime you had me in tears, although court room banter would be interesting!

      Thank you for checking out the post 😀

  2. nadaliebardo

    This is soooo great Jenna! Although I’m not writing a book as yet, I definitely express quite a bit of internal dialogue in my blog post.

    You two ladies have me SOOOO excited to start writing. I can’t wait to get going on my first lesson of your free Planning Your Novel course. So much so (haha word of the hour = so), I’m going to start now.

    Thanks for the inspiration to crush it at my dialogue in my blog posts.

    Nadalie, It’s All You Boo
    NEW POST: 12 Easy Ways to Spring Clean Your Mind

    Ps. I also kind of wish I could read more about Tommy and and Jenny. What happens next?

    • I am so happy this post inspired you Nadalie and am excited that you are taking the course! I can’t wait for you to start your book journey!

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